Accomplished television director, enthusiastic mentor and passionate (giver) are just a few of the ways you could describe Tom Gionis, of Weston CT. Looking back on his career and his life, Tom has plenty to be proud of, but his focus remains on the future. As a veteran of the ever-evolving television news and sports industry, Tom has seen a lot of change in his career, but some things have remained true throughout his life. The lessons in generosity taught by his grandparents have stayed with Tom and helped shape the way he interacts with other people. As he moves into the next phase of his life and career, Tom hopes to pass on those lessons to future generations. Today he sat down with us to reflect on his life, his accomplishments and to share his hopes for the future.
1. What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I have always loved the fast-paced energy of the television industry. Back when I was starting out, enthusiasm, passion and a willingness to show up and work hard were key to finding success and steady work. Today the industry has expanded, leading to more opportunities for those with that same kind of motivation and passion. (But as the industry evolves), I still find the new media technologies and emerging consumption habits are extremely fascinating and creatively liberating.
2. What does a typical day consist of for you?
I’ve spent recent years teaching … but mostly learning. It’s not an attempt to reinvent myself or become more relevant, rather I see it as a continuation with a life long love affair with the media and TV programming. I’m actually proud to say I’ve been watching or working in TV for close to 60 years. What I learned is it’s all about storytelling with passion. I’ve been pursuing forming narrative and concepts that not only are for TV but also have helped me create a song book – where songs are built out to form a larger narrative, and as always a producer, why pay for music rights when you can write them yourself.
3. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration has come to me in several ways. My grandparents raised me, and they had a big impact on how I live my life. From them I learned the value of giving and the amazing feeling it creates within. They made sure we never thought we were above the raisin. Philotimo is a Greek word that means virtue. Just always trying to do the right thing, and really try to correct when I don’t. Professionally, I became hooked by the world of television and entertainment when I was lucky enough to see a live taping of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in New York City. The energy and excitement from that experience is still with me today.
4. Who has been a role model to you and why?
Both of my grandparents had a major impact on the way I have lived my life. They taught me the values of faith and the moral benefits of giving to others. I have spent my life looking for ways to pay it forward and help others. Whether that means doing something small like buying a hungry person a meal, or helping someone out of a major financial jam, giving is something I have tried to build my life around.
5. What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Be passionate about what you do and always be willing to show up early, stay late, and put in the hard work that can set you apart from your peers. Television and media are all about that willingness to show up and work hard, while keeping a positive attitude and a collaborative mindset. Even with all the changes that I have seen in my career, this advice remains true.
6. What is your biggest accomplishment?
Thanks to hard work and dedication to my craft and my personal passions, I have accomplished plenty in my life. I am very proud to have been formally recognized by FEMA for my contribution in disaster relief. Professionally, I have been fortunate to work on a lot of interesting and original projects in television. I am very proud of my time spent directing live news and sports. It was the best job ever! It also feels great to be part of the DGA as well as be cited on IDMB for my work of the NHL on Versus.
7. What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?
In general, I want to pass along the spirit of giving and passion that was instilled in me at a young age. The world needs more people who are willing to give rather than take for themselves. It may seem simple but having the willingness to share can make all the difference in another person’s life. If I could give someone advice, I say be quick with a smile and slow on anger.
8. Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I suppose my personality is defined by my willingness to give to others. I find I take a lot of self-worth from being involved in charitable endeavors, helping to mentor and inspire young adults looking to break into media and looking for ways to improve the lives of the people around me. The feeling I get from helping a fellow person is usually always worth the effort.
9. What trends in your industry excite you?
When I was working, I was fortunate to witness and play a role in the rise of some major industry changes. I watched as the three big American television networks became a part of the bigger world of cable television and 24-hour news cycles. These days new innovations in production and consumtion is very exciting to me. I think we are just at the beginning of a whole new era of creativity. Young minds in the industry are continuously finding new ways to engage people via the media, and I think that’s wonderful. In my own way, I have tried to embrace this trend and create content based on my personal experiences that I post online. Doing so helps me stay engaged with the industry that I love so much.